Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cultural Diplomacy through the Contemporary Art Market

The market for contemporary art is private-sector cultural diplomacy. Major collectors have developed cities as centers of contemporary art, while museum exhibitions, international art fairs, and on-line galleries have enabled new artists to market works globally. Through global distribution, contemporary art communicates social and political views across cultures and bridges socioeconomic divides.
Reporting on politics of contemporary art in Los Angeles recently publicized the development of the Broad Museum for Contemporary Art, which will house a 2,000-piece collection. As an example of the intent to make Los Angeles the capital of contemporary art, the $130-million-dollar museum follows a history of collecting by Eli and Edythe Broad. The Broad Art Foundation also facilitates the spread of culture by loaning artworks to museums across four continents. The collection comprises more than 1,500 works by more than 100 artists, such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. While contemporary artworks have come to command multimillion-dollar prices, artists continue to create “affordable” works for the market.
China and Brazil provide examples of emerging markets for contemporary art that enable new artists to gain international exposure. A demand for “affordable artworks” in China has given rise to a series of art fairs that select for newer artists and restrict the maximum price (e.g. from $5,000 to $10,000) for individual works, and in the past decade, art “supermarkets” in China have made works available to everyone on an ongoing-basis. An expanding on-line market in China, allows ordinary wage-earners to invest in and collect art. Similarly, the middle-class in Brazil has taken to investing new-found wealth in art from galleries and ArtRio, an international art fair that started last year in Rio de Janeiro. While many of the galleries from abroad at the fair hail from established art centers such as New York, London, Berlin, and Zurich, an expanding interest in collecting suggests that emerging art centers will soon have a presence.
For example, the Korean International Art Fair (KIAF), which took place this month in Seoul, featured contemporary artists from Latin America. Due to a slump in the art market in Korea, galleries at the fair displayed works across a broad price range. While prominent artists such as Fang Lijun commanded high prices, younger local artists offered affordable works.  Reportedly, Latin American contemporary art is undervalued, so an event such as KIAF has the potential to foster a market for Latin American art in Asia. Aspiring collectors in Seoul who purchase works of emerging artists from Bogota, Columbia prove the value of the contemporary art market as an instrument for cultural diplomacy.


  1. In today's time, online galleries are in trend. Buying painting and its accessories online offers many advantages . There are various types of art that are readily available on the net, the majority of which are contemporary art, abstract art and modern art. For Painters and artists - Selling painting online provides them a global market, which not only saves time and but also reduces extra cost of exhibitions for artists.  
    Australian Contemporary Artists

  2. Thanks for the feedback. All true for the potential of the online art market. The lower barrier to enter the market, for both artist and collector, increases the role of contemporary art in private-sector cultural diplomacy.